Sunday – 19th Sunday in Ordinary time – Matthew 14:22-33
Today we celebrate Vianney Sunday and I would like to take the Gospel of today and dove tail it with the celebrations of clergy day that we celebrate across the world. I will do this in the form of a meditation.
THE LORD: The Gospel text begins with Jesus withdrawing into the mountains to pray. Prayer and solitude were an integral part of Jesus’ life but this time his desire to be alone in prayer was tinged with sadness. Chapter 14 begins with the narrative of the beheading of John the Baptist, the cousin of Jesus. Immediately after this Jesus found himself thronged by people in the wilderness who were spiritually and physically hungry. There was no time to grieve. So, he fed the five thousand and with a heart that was still grieving he went to the mountains where he prayed.
HIS PRIEST: My life must be a mirror of you Lord; the servant cannot be greater than the master. Many times, I too hold back my own emotional needs to meet the needs of those entrusted to my care. Like you Lord, I find the harvest great and the labourers disappearing. I am human Lord, I struggle with my own ups and downs and there is no one to help me pick up my shattered heart, there is no time to deal with it, so I sweep them under the carpet. Where do I find my solitude? Like you Lord I have to find some time to be alone to find strength in prayer and snatch a few moments of silence.
THE LORD: We are told that while the Lord was in prayer in the mountains his disciples were battling the winds and the waves on the boat. The Greek word describes the wind as ‘tortured and harassed’. This was no ordinary storm. Yet while the disciples battled the wind the Lord remained in the mountains. He was praying for them. He did not jump to their rescue as we might expect but neither did he abandon them. He came at the break of dawn, walking on the water.
HIS PRIEST: I have been there Lord; I have experienced this perfect storm. Every element of nature seemed to conspire against me and just when I got a grip of the oar, the sail ripped. I know you are not Harry Houdini, even though I had hoped you would have pulled a rabbit from the hat and on this occasion, anything would have been acceptable, even a rabbit. I know I have to battle my own demons, my storms and my sins. Yet I know you will never abandon your anointed for when you know that I am at breaking point you walk towards me
THE LORD: They thought the Lord was a ghost after all he did come to them walking on water. This time he did not need their boat, not that he ever needed it. This time he just had to speed it up and paper work for the requisition of a boat would take too long! They were sinking and could not hold out. And so, he walked on water. He came to their rescue and her in lies the irony, the don’t seem to want it because they think he is a ghost!
HIS PRIEST: We live in a world of distrust and yes, I too have been taken for a ride, several times! Everything I see may not be true and so I need to be like Thomas. I insist on putting my hand in your side Lord, I need proof you are not a ghost. So often I have sensed you in prayer Lord or true to this age you pop out of a computer screen saying “It is I”. It’s hard Lord for me to believe, I dismiss you as a ghost or just another spammer on my mailing list. My faith falters, help my unbelief (Mark 9:24).
THE LORD: The first thing the Lord does is not chastise our little faith. He did not chastise the faith of the disciples who thought they saw a ghost. He calmed their fears, “Take heart, do not be afraid, It Is I.”
HIS PRIEST: I hear you Lord, I hear your words of comfort and even though I distrusted my heart a minute ago, now I want to take a leap of faith. I want to walk to you, walk on the water. In many ways I am glad I did that. The way out of fear and depression and anxiety is to take that first step, even if it is into the unknown. At least I was no longer paralyzed with fear. It may have been five steps but I made it that far.
I took that first step out of the boat; I had my eye fixed on you. Yes, there was a storm but I had my eye fixed on you not on the troubled waters I stood on. Then I made that humongous blunder, I focused on my problem and I was hit with that sinking feeling only this time I was really sinking and all I could do was shout for help, “Lord save me”
THE LORD: The Lord grasped Peter’s hands even though he deserved a good dunk in the lake. That perhaps would have been a true ‘immersion of faith’. Scripture tells us that the Lord was there ‘immediately’ and caught on to him. Then they got into the boat and the wind ceased. The Lord was worshipped for they recognized him as the Son of God.
HIS PRIEST: There are two ways I could look at this experience Lord, as the man who sank because I took my eyes off you or I was the one you called to walk on water, even though I did it for a few steps. I choose the latter Lord. You called, and I said yes! Have I always been perfect? No! but you have. You have always been by my side and if my five baby steps made any difference to your kingdom, then I am happy I contributed to its coming.
Now when I am faced with a storm, I don’t tell myself how big my storm is, I tell my storm how big my God is.
And the wind drops!
Fr Warner D’Souza
9th August 2020